Sweden crushes Russia's gold-medal hopes
Backlund scores in overtime to give Swedes a berth in world junior hockey finals
Sweden will play for a gold medal for the first time in 12 years Saturday at the world junior hockey championship in Pardubice, Czech Republic.
Forward Mikael Backlund beat Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with a shot through the legs at 6:18 of overtime to cap a come-from-behind 2-1 semifinal victory on Friday.
Teammate Robin Figren had forced OT with a power-play goal midway through the third period.
Sweden, which hasn't won a medal of any colour at the world juniors since losing to Canada in the 1996 final in Boston, Mass., will play the winner of Friday's Canada/United States semifinal on Saturday (2 p.m. ET).
Russia will play for a bronze medal at 10 a.m. ET Saturday after capturing silver the last three years.
Sweden improved to 5-0-0 at this year's tournament, thanks in large part to the play of goaltender Jhonas Enroth, a Buffalo Sabres draft pick.
In Friday's extra period, the 19-year-old made a huge stop on Viktor Tikhonov, who skated from his own zone and went through three Swedes before he was thwarted at the goalline.
Backlund, a 2007 Calgary Flames draft pick, scored his third goal of the tourney on a pretty solo effort. Driving across the Russian blue-line, he beat defenceman Pavel Doronin to the outside and then cut back in, switching to his forehand and beating Bobrovsky with a shot along the ice.
Backlund nearly gave the Swedes the victory in regulation. After taking a feed from Tony Lagerstrom in the Russian zone, he fought off forward Dmitri Sayustov but couldn't beat Bobrovsky with five seconds remaining on the clock.
Sayustov was assessed a hooking penalty on the play, but Sweden was unable to convert its fifth man-advantage as Bobrovsky came up big.
The Swedes entered the game with the most effective power play of the tourney (6-for-20) but were denied on their first four chances against Russia.
Figren ended that drought at 11:50 of the third period when he took a Joakim Andersson pass at the hash marks, avoided a sliding Doronin and deposited the puck into an open net after fooling Bobrovsky.
The Swedes were fortunate to only be down a goal entering the third period. Tentative for much of the opening 40 minutes, they were also guilty of turning over the puck and not establishing an aggressive forecheck.
Filatov gave Russia a 1-0 advantage with 93 seconds left in the second period. His rush to the net was identical to that of Backlund as he sped past Swedish rearguard Jonathan Carlsson, went to the backhand and beat Enroth five-hole.